A native of Missouri, in the Midwestern United States, I worked as a newspaper photojournalist for fourteen years, on stories large and small, local and international. I photographed people and events ranging from local high school athletes to national political conventions and documented the United States’ military interventions in Panama, Haiti and Somalia.
On a spring day in 1997, while photographing in Sacramento, California, a gang of a half-dozen angry young men accosted me, demanding my film. I was summarily beaten, kicked and stomped, left for dead, bleeding on a sidewalk in front of a group of horrified children. I remember almost none of it.
I began to re-surface in the next weeks, and found myself residing at Sierra Gates, a quiet, pine-paneled brain injury treatment residence. I was unclear how I arrived there or even why I was there at all. Over the next 2 1/2 months I took the first unsteady steps I needed in order to rebuild my life, which would include re-learning how to walk and even re-learning how to remember.
My experience of the world had changed drastically, especially my relationship with time, which I learned was due to my diminished short-term memory and attention capabilities. Six months after my release from Sierra Gates, as an exercise with my speech therapist, I decided to return there to photograph. Having been attacked because I was a photographer I needed to learn how to be a photographer once again, and to understand why my life had become so different. As the criminal justice process unfolded over the next two years, I continued to photograph at Sierra Gates until I could no longer emotionally bear it. But it was through this act of fixing images of my experiences outside my injured brain that I learned to place myself once again in time.
I didn’t know what to do with these pictures at first, but with the help of friends I was invited to a printing/editing residency at Light Work and eventually to exhibitions at festivals and galleries in France, Germany and the U.S. After much cognitive and psychological work, I will finally publish a book of the pictures, The Burden of Memory, later this year.
In Mexico, on March 24, 2001, the fourth anniversary of my attack, I took my first pictures for what became an ongoing project focusing on the massive human alteration of the Colorado River.